What You Should Do When People Are Rude


In our political scene, intolerance has taken the place of earnest dialogue. Drivers on our roads, rage along freeways at 70 miles per hour. And in our workplaces, stressed-out workers freely release rude remarks with little regard for anyone but themselves.

intolerance at workPier M. Fornie, Johns Hopkins University professor and author, points at stress as a leading cause of incivility. “When we are stressed, we are less likely to be considerate and kind to others.… We are more prone to anger … less tolerant of the mistakes of others.”

Absolutely, bullying and incivility should not be tolerated in the workplace. But rudeness takes more evaluation.

So, what can you do to help keep rudeness from escalating?

1. Pause

  • Wait a few seconds before responding
  • Breathe. It’s common to start breathing fast when you’re being attacked. Focus on the motions of breathing.
  • Speak softly and lower your voice
  • Use words that are not inflammatory and use appropriate body language
  • Watch your facial expression and tone of voice

2. Evaluate

  • Take a step back. Recognize that the action probably isn’t about you, but rather something else the individual is dealing with.
  • Don’t waste your time on something petty … unless it crosses the line or happens repeatedly

Dealing with rude people in the office3. Focus on the other person

  • Show that the complaint and feelings are important
  • Treat the person as a valued individual
  • Help them see options, choices and control
  • Ask, “When did you start thinking that … ?”

4. Be the bigger person

  • If the attack is personal, speak up for yourself and ask not to be spoken to this way. Use “I” statements.
  • Change the subject slightly
  • Walk away—take time out if you’re getting angry. Shrug your shoulders and walk away.
  • Disarm the rude person by being polite and genuinely kind

Rudeness is contagious and can easily escalate. Stay in control and don’t return the treatment. Evaluate the situation before reacting. If it’s a one-time comment, you may decide to let it roll. If it’s a pattern, you may need to calmly put your foot down. If the situation has already escalated, get more information on identifying bullying behavior here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.